In no small part due to the pressures of inflation, we all know that the cost of living has blown through the ceiling over the last year or so…

The RBA’s series of rate raises seek to combat inflationary stress; however, many argue that rising rates will actually compound pressure on individuals and businesses by deepening loan and mortgage stress.

While we await the effects of these rate rises to temper inflation, to keep afloat in the meantime, small business owners may have to think outside the box to maintain solid cash flow.

For the first instalment of our small business blog series on dealing with inflation, we look at how you can harness efficiency tactics to ease the stress of skyrocketing rates and keep a healthy balance sheet.

How can increased efficiency help battle inflation and rising operating costs?

Increasing the efficiency of your business operations is a win in itself. Namely, if you can find ways to automate time-consuming but essential busy work, you’ll start operating more leanly right away, and your business will run increasingly smoothly as a result…

Time is money… so cleaning up unnecessary wasted hours will boost your business bottom line. In other words, you can spend more of your energy on profit-raising activities, that enhance productivity and eliminate wasted cash.

“Profits are determined by productivity; by value-added and by efficiencies and effectiveness.” – Hendrith Vanlon Smith Jr, CEO of Mayflower-Plymouth

Time to automate

1) Re-evaluate your software choices and look for better automation

Now is an opportune time to sit down and have a look at your software systems. It might be wise to do some diligent research and then shop around to see if you can find viable solutions that cost far less.

If you pay month-to-month for any of your small business software rather than buying them outright, then you’re in a prime position to easily switch to a competitor.

The SaaS market is a very competitive space, so there’s every chance a new solution has come along that provides better value than your existing choice.

While you’re at it, there’s likely been some improvement in whichever software category you’re considering. Don’t just look for a cheaper alternative, also look for a system that better automates tasks and produces better outcomes with fewer manual processes.

Software choices

2) Automate and integrate your systems

Once you’ve snapped up the best value and most high performing solutions for your small business needs – look to integrate and automate them into your workflows to increase your overall effectiveness.

For example, if you run a business that uses a POS (point of sale) system, you can take advantage of a huge number of integrations. By linking your POS with your accounting software, CRM, or inventory tracking, you can reduce a host of manual processes.

If you run an eCommerce store, you can also link your platform to similar systems and make your whole sales and recording process almost entirely hands-off.


3) Be brutal in tidying up your workflows

Every business will have an array of workflows that detail how things are done and in what order.  The scope is wide and could mean anything from how you pay your staff, or how you order and cook food if you own a restaurant. It could be automating how you pay your invoices, or how you do your books.

It’s possible every process in your business can be optimised for efficiency! So, be mindful of all the workflows performed by you and your staff and assess them regularly.

(It’s easy to quickly map them out by drawing up just a simple numbered list that orders the events of your common workflows.)

Once you’ve identified your processes, take a fresh look. How can you reduce the number of steps? Is there a better technique or software solution? Can you outsource certain workflows inexpensively or eliminate some altogether?

If you’re vigilant in adopting lean, quick, and automated workflows, you’ll save a lot of wasted time and energy.

Time management

4) Get serious about time management

To free up more time to concentrate on sales and marketing activity, or other profit-generating tasks, be super rigorous about your time management.

You don’t have to block out your whole week but try to foresee your daily calendar of events and diarise them in advance. By improving how you schedule and prioritise your time, such as laying out a marketing content calendar or setting a regular time to do your books, you’ll free up a lot of wasted time bumbling around inefficiently.